June 24, 2018
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Six top baseball players named Winkin Award finalists

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

Six of the state’s top high school baseball players have been selected as finalists for the 20th annual Dr. John W. Winkin Award.

Candidates for the award, symbolic of the state’s Mr. Baseball, are Sam Balzano of Deering of Portland, Kyle Bishop of Waterville, Scott Heath of Westbrook, Mekae Hyde of Lewiston, Matt McDowell of Falmouth and Brandon Reilly of Lincoln Academy in Newcastle.

The finalists are determined by the Maine Baseball Coaches Association, and the award will be presented just before Friday’s Maine Senior All-Star Game, which is scheduled for a 6 p.m. first pitch from Mahaney Diamond on the campus of the University of Maine in Orono.

Balzano, who will join the University of Maine baseball program in the fall, was named the Southwestern Maine Activities Association’s most valuable player while leading Deering to a 13-3 regular-season record. The pitcher-outfielder led the conference in numerous offensive categories including batting average (,.531), slugging percentage (.878) and runs scored (23). He also went 5-0 on the mound with a 2.62 earned run average.

Bishop helped Waterville become the first Class B team to win back-to-back state championships in baseball since Cape Elizabeth won it all in both 1990 and 1991. As a pitcher, he went undefeated over his last two seasons with the Purple Panthers, including a 7-0 record on the mound this spring with a 0.34 earned run average. Also an outfielder, Bishop batted a team-leading .562 for coach Don Sawyer’s club.

Heath posted a 5-0 pitching record with a 0.00 earned run average and 41 strikeouts in 33 innings while leading Westbrook to a 14-2 regular-season record in Western Class A this spring. The SMAA’s pitcher of the year, Heath suffered an arm injury late in the season that prevented him from pitching in the postseason.

Heath, already named the state’s Gatorade player of the year, also batted .378 for the Blue Blazes, which reached the Western A championship game. He’ll join Balzano at the University of Maine.

Hyde, a catcher, was named the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A southern division player of the year after batting .438 with three home runs and 23 RBIs with a .729 slugging percentage. Hyde’s work in the middle of the batting order helped Lewiston compile a 18-2 record and win its first regional championship in 61 years when the Blue Devils edged Bangor 5-4 in the Eastern Maine final.

McDowell, a four-year starter for Falmouth, was named Western Maine Conference co-player of the year this spring for leading the Yachtsmen to a berth in the Western B semifinals.

Reilly was named KVAC Class B player of the year after a regular season during which he went 5-0 with a 1.05 earned run average with 62 strikeouts in 40 innings on the mound — including a 21-strikeout performance in a complete-game, nine-inning 4-3 victory over Oak Hill of Sabattus. The Saint Joseph’s College-bound Reilly also batted .604 with eight home runs and 27 RBIs for the Eagles, which reached the Western B semifinals.

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